Genesis Through Joshua- Leviticus: Sacrifices and Priests

Structure of Leviticus
1-7 Sacrifices
8-10 Regulations for Priests
11-16 Regulations of uncleanness and cleanness
17-25 General regulations for holy leaving
26 Blessing and cursing
27 Regulations of Vows

In this lecture we will be looking at chapters 1-10

The Holiness of Sacrifice 1-7
a) Literary Structure
1-6:7 the role of lay people in the sacrifices
6:8-7:38 the role of Priest in the sacrifices

Order of the sacrifices featured:
1-6:7 (lay people) = burnt, grain, fellowship, sin and guilt
6:8-7:38 (priests) = burnt, grain, sin, guilt, fellowship

b) Types of sacrifices
i) Burnt.
The sacrifice went up in smoke. These sacrifices happened every morning and every evening. Extra offerings happened on other holy days.
Exodus 29:39-42 tells us that burnt offerings were to happen every day
Burnt offerings used cattle, sheep or goats, dove or pigeon.

Rituals of the burnt offering:
Lay people brings the animal into the courtyard, worshipper lays hands, the priest accepts the offering, the worshipper kills the animal, priest collects the blood and sprinkles it on the alter, worshipper skins the animal (except for birds), priests burns the various pieces, worshiper washes the legs, the whole animal is burnt with the priest keeping the skin.

Purpose? 1:4 tells us that the laying on of hands transfers the guilt of the worshipper. Makes the worshipper acceptable by freeing him from guilt and it satisfies the divine wrath of God (expiation and propitiation).

ii) Grain 2:1-16, 6:14-23
A present given from one person to another. These offerings usually followed the burnt of offerings. Used in the first fruits time and adultery situations (Num 5:15)

2 types: Cooked/Uncooked. No yeast, honey, salt, oil or incense was used.

Worshipper prepares the grain, the worshipper takes the grain to the priest, the priest burns a portion of the offering, and then the priest eats the remainder of the offering.

It’s purpose was to demonstrate gratitude to God. The Priest benefits by eating the remaining food!

iii) Fellowship (also called peace) Offering
The offering was voluntary. Confession/free will offering/ vow would happen.
Different types: cow, sheep, goats or bread.

The ritual: The offering was taken to the courts, the worshipper would lay hands, priest would accept the offering then sprinkle blood and burn the fat, the priest would receive the breast and thigh of the offering. The worshipper, family and friends would eat together portions of the sacrifice. Other instructions are found in Lev 7:16-27
The purposes include communion with God and the celebration of God.

iv) Sin
Used in certain specific events and festivals (Numbers 28 and 29).
If a sin offering of the high priest = bull
If for a ruler = male goat
If for a commoner =female goat/lamb
If for the poor = flour

The Ceremony:
Lays hands on the hand
Blood is caught the rest of the blood is put at the foot of the alter
If for the priest the blood is sprinkled on the veil
If for the commoners the blood is put on the altar of burnt offerings

If for the Priest the fatty parts are burnt on the altar
If for laity the fatty portions are burnt on the altar. The Priest then eats the remainder of the offering.

It’s purpose: to cleanse for sins and make atonement. Forgiveness is provided through the sin offerings (Lev 4:26,35).

v) Guilt:
Guilt offerings are needed for times when restoration is necessary in the life of the worshipper. Examples include violation of holy things and theft or cheating (5:14, 6:2-5).

The worshipper makes restitution with a fine if necessary (6:4-5).
The animal is brought to the court, the worshipper confesses the sin, and makes restitution, worshipper kills the animal, priest sprinkles the blood on the altar, the priest burns the fat and entrails, the priest cooks the meat and then eats it, the priest uses the skin.

Purpose: to demonstrate repentance and make restitution through forgiveness.

Why write all these details?
The laity and the priest are both given instructions so that they know that the sacrificial system is sacred.

The Holiness of the Priesthood 8-10
a) Literary Structure
i) Moses consecrates Aaron and his sons as priests
ii) God approves of Aaron and his sons as priests
iii) Aaron and his sons learning how serious the being a priest is

i) Moses concretes Aaron and his son as priest
8:36 Aaron and his sons do everything Moses commands

ii) In chapter 9 God approves of Aaron and his son
9:23-24 God approves in a dramatic way
Moses and Araon go to the tent of meeting. They bless the people. Fire consumes the burnt offering. The people respond by shouting for joy.

iii) Aaron and his sons learning how serious the being a priest is
10:3 Nadab and Abihu brought unauthorised fire before God. Both Nadab and Abihu die.
10:8-11 gives a warning about alcohol and worship. Maybe Nadab and Abihu were drunk when giving the sacrifice?
10:12-20 the sons of Israel must recognise the holiness of God

Sacrifices Today
The OT sacrifices on earth have been shifted to heaven (Mark 10:45, Hebrews 7:27).
We do not need to make atonement for sin anymore. Christ is the final sacrifice given once for all.
We do give some sacrifices. These are not atoning sacrifices but gratitude sacrifices. See 1 Corinthians 9:13-14. The priest benefited from the OT sacrifices. The same should work today. Preachers should be paid a wage from the congregation

Hebrews 13:15-16 tells us that we should give a sacrifice of praise.
1 Peter 2:5 tells us that we are a living temple who give a sacrifice of worship (see also Romans 12:1-2).

God has accepted the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He expects Christ’s followers to make a continuous sacrifice of praise. God requires holiness in worship today, as the OT priests were to be holy.


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